McCain to Newsmax: Americans 'Overwhelmingly' Want Immigration Reform

Monday, 22 Jul 2013 04:39 PM

By Jim Meyers and Kathleen Walter

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Sen. John McCain tells Newsmax that the American people "overwhelmingly" want the Senate and House to come to an agreement on immigration reform.

The Arizona Republican and 2008 presidential candidate also says he will do "everything in my power" to see that Obamacare is repealed but warns that shutting down the government is not the way to go about doing that.

Story continues below video.



McCain was first elected in 1986 and is a member of the Armed Services and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committees.

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House Speaker John Boehner has reiterated that he would not allow a vote on the bipartisan immigration reform bill passed by the Senate, which McCain championed, because he says it is too massive and not strong enough on border protection.

In an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV on Monday, McCain comments: "I obviously appreciate that the speaker has a very difficult leadership position here. Some members of his conference don't want to vote on anything, there's some that want to vote on specific aspects of immigration reform, and there are others who want to pick up the bill. So he is in a very serious leadership position on this issue.

"Congressman Paul Ryan, our vice presidential candidate in 2012, is supporting the legislation, so what we're trying to do is galvanize our base of support, which is broader than any coalition I've ever seen, and try to convince our colleagues to pass something and bring it to the [GOP] so that we can hopefully act on this issue.

"Overwhelmingly, the American people want us to act. Now there's varying opinions as to how they want us to act, but they sure want us to act because almost every American knows that 11 million people living in the shadows is not what America's supposed to be all about."

Democrats and Republicans have been working together on various issues in the Senate. Asked if there is a lesson here for the House, particularly on the issue of immigration, McCain responds: "I hope so. But one thing that the House resents — and it's understandable — is members of the Senate telling them what to do.

"Our message, certainly mine is, we want to sit down, we want to negotiate. I'm not trying to tell you what to do. We would like to see a result. It's important for the country and the Republican Party, but to impart some kind of impression to the House that you're forcing them to do something is clearly counterproductive.

"What we need is our evangelical community, our business communities small and large, our high-tech community, and so many others that support this bill to discuss with them ways that we can get this issue done."

McCain offers his take on Republicans' piecemeal approach to immigration reform in the House.

"Obviously I would rather see a comprehensive immigration bill, but if they want to pass it piece by piece, that's an option that I respect. I wish they would ... go comprehensive, but I respect that; I look forward to working with them.

"In the month of August I intend to be spending time in my state talking to various business groups and evangelicals and many other groups to try to persuade my Republican congressmen who represent Arizona to take a fresh look at this issue."

Sen. Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, says he’s recruited more than a dozen Senate Republicans willing to shut down the government by blocking a continued resolution on funding in order to prevent the president’s healthcare law from going into effect.

McCain opposes such a move, he tells Newsmax.

"I've had some long experience here in Congress, both in the House and the Senate, and when we take people to the brink of shutting down the government, it's never a productive exercise.

"I will do everything in my power to try to repeal Obamacare. With some immodesty I say that I was one of the leaders in the fight against it. But for us to say that a certain issue unless acted on should shut down the government, whether it be Obamacare or the repeal of sequestration, whatever somebody's problem is, I don't think is the right way to approach this issue.

"And frankly, from past experience, it is not a winning way politically to gain the support of the American people."

Addressing calls for a review of "stand-your-ground" laws in Florida and other states with similar laws, McCain agrees with President Obama that it "deserves a review."

Latest: Do You Support Giving Illegals Citizenship? Vote Here Now

He adds: "There's a great deal of controversy associated with this legislation and we ought to review the results of it. This is why we sunset a bill a lot of times, so it forces us to review the impacts of it. I'm not making a judgment on the "stand your ground" law, I'm just saying it has obviously created a great deal of controversy in this country and it deserves to be reviewed."

Looking ahead to the presidential election in 2016 and the GOP's chances of defeating Hillary Clinton if she runs, McCain observes: "Obviously it's very early, but we Republicans can bring forth a candidate that we can all support.

"There are going to be more running this time than even last time. I don’t think there's going to be room on the stage for all of them in these debates. I don’t believe anyone has a lock on any nomination this early.

"There's no doubt that Hillary Clinton has a very large problem within the Democratic Party. I wouldn't discount my old friend Joe Biden, and I wouldn't discount others.

"We look back at 2005: There's no one in America who believed an obscure senator from Illinois was going to be the nominee and later the president of the United States, most of all me. And so it's too early to predict, but I would have to say that right now Hillary has the front-runner status."

In his Newsmax interview, McCain also assails Obama's "total lack of leadership" in the Middle East — and warns that isolationists in the GOP can't "withdraw to fortress America."

Editor's Note: See excerpts of John McCain's exclusive interview with Newsmax:

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